Office for Civil Rights Annual Report to Congress FY 2003

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Encouraging Safe Schools

Harassment could deny a student the right to an education free of discrimination and could threaten a student's physical or emotional well-being, influence how well a student does in school and make it difficult for a student to achieve his or her career goals. Also, the courts have made it clear that, where harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it interferes with benefits protected by law, it creates an illegal "hostile environment."

Racial Harassment

After investigating a complaint, OCR found that an African American student was subjected to disparaging comments and physical threats because of his race. The student's parents removed him from the school district because it failed to take appropriate action to end the harassment. The district agreed to reimburse the family $3,000 for expenses in transporting the student to and from his new school district and will cover the cost of psychological counseling.

"Racial prejudice is a reality in America. It hurts many of our citizens. As a nation and as a government and as individuals, we must be vigilant in responding to prejudice where we find it."

President George W. Bush
January 15, 2003

Disability Harassment

OCR found that a student with cerebral palsy was continually teased, hit and called names by other students and that school officials did not take sufficient steps to end the harassment. The school district agreed to publish and implement effective disability harassment procedures, train all staff on the procedures and maintain a recordkeeping system.

Preventing Harassment

OCR participated in several state initiatives aimed at preventing hate crime, harassment and bullying. Following the events of September 11, 2001, OCR responded to numerous requests for technical assistance to prevent harassment of students, teachers or other persons perceived to be Arab Americans or of Middle Eastern or South Asian origin.

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Last Modified: 09/25/2018